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Dave Bossert: Think Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: April 27, 2009 9:13 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
About six months ago a grass-roots effort started with a few folks at the city of Santa Clarita and various Santa Clarita Valley business owners, business organizations and media outlets. The basic idea was a good one: Help to promote shopping locally to boost the economic well-being of Santa Clarita.

With any grass-roots effort there are some unintentional missteps. In this case it was the exclusion of community leadership representing all areas of the Santa Clarita Valley.

It was only recently that invitations went out to the Acton, Agua Dulce, Castaic and West Ranch town councils' communities in the unincorporated areas surrounding the city of Santa Clarita.

Nonetheless, at a meeting on Friday, representatives of the West Ranch and Agua Dulce town councils attended a "Think Santa Clarita" campaign meeting held in the Century Room at Santa Clarita City Hall.

There was also a representative from the Castaic Chamber of Commerce, even though that group has opted out of participating in the campaign.

Although many in the unincorporated areas felt that their communities were an afterthought, the fact is that participation in a program that will benefit the economy of the entire valley is more important than a few ruffled feathers.

It is vital for all to realize that the Santa Clarita Valley is made up of many communities, both in the city and in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

This is an important point because much of Friday's meeting was spent on a spirited discussion of the campaign name "Think Santa Clarita." Many at the meeting felt that the campaign name should be more inclusive and be called "Think Santa Clarita Valley."

This was advocated by the Valencia Auto Dealers Association, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industrial Association, the town councils represented, The Signal and many others at the meeting.

It was no surprise that there was vehement opposition from city employees Jason Crawford, co-chair of the "Think" campaign; city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz; and council members Laurie Ender and Bob Kellar.

Listening to their arguments as to why the campaign should only be called "Think Santa Clarita," it was clear that some had received their marching orders from a superior and others stood by the view that it is all about the city.

Councilwoman Laurie Ender showcased her myopic valley view by speaking of representing only her constituents in the city.

This is a flawed view that has stymied neighborly relations and has continued to breed ill will and mistrust in the Santa Clarita Valley.

It was evident at the meeting that the business interests present were not pleased by what was so aptly referred to as "arrogance."

Ender's views seemed to echo then-Councilman Frank Ferry's from more than a year ago in which he shouted at a City Council meeting that he didn't "care about" the more than 9,000 residents on the west side; their purchases within city limits didn't seem to matter.

I have no doubt that valleywide business owners would disagree with that shortsighted observation.

I'm sure that most local business owners, if not all, don't care where their customers live; there are no geographic boundaries when it comes to local business.

Businesses care about providing goods and services that meet and exceed expectation so that customers will become repeat customers - regulars, if you will.

By the end of the discussion over the name of the campaign, Councilman Kellar appeared to acquiesce, as did others, to the notion that "valley" be included in the name.

That decision cleared the way for support from some in the unincorporated areas. Even the Castaic Chamber representative thought that this decision could have a bearing on a rethink of the chamber's current position.

Some of the town council members acknowledged that they would be more than willing to lobby the county to participate both financially and with services in the campaign, as it will benefit the entire valley.

The fact is that the residents of the unincorporated areas contribute handily to the local economy with much money being spent within, and benefiting, the city of Santa Clarita.

Any "shop local" campaign now or in the future must be inclusive of the entire Santa Clarita Valley or it will be doomed to failure.

The city's exclusive views have been divisive in the past and only proved to lack vision. Hopefully the city leadership will take this into consideration at today's City Council meeting.

Many local business owners are also our neighbors and friends. Those businesses are employing many more residents of our valley community, and those folks are spending their paychecks locally as well.

It is in our collective best interest, on many levels, to help them be successful by patronizing those businesses.

Doing so puts tax dollars into the city and county coffers, which is returned back to all our communities in services and improved quality of life.

The more we shop locally in the Santa Clarita Valley, the better and stronger our entire valley community's economic health will be now and for years to come.

I hope that everyone will seriously THINK Santa Clarita Valley when considering any purchases large or small.

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer and publishes regularly on www.westranchbeacon.com. His comments represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The Signal.

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